Interview with Deadgood Design Manager Vicki Leach

As the London Design Festival opens this week, Deadgood Design Manager Vicki Leach gives an insight into the build up of a design event like LDF, and also the inspiration behind The "Deadgood Library" opening as part of The Shoreditch Design Triangle today at YCN.

How does the team prepare for a major event like the London Design Festival?

We tend to do two main trade shows a year - except this year where we've actually done three shows already with LDF on the horizon. It's been a busy year!

 There are generally  4 stages of preparation

1. Looking at what products we're launching, have just launched and older collection pieces.

2. Considering where we're exhibiting - looking at the space, the surroundings etc. and thinking about how the products will fit in there.

3. Looking at who the target audience is for the exhibition and how we want them to interact with our exhibition.

4. Design, Prepare & Build.

 Over the course of the year we have a product development schedule with products in the pipeline. These can be short projects but they can also be 2-3 years as well. We then look at the budget and which products being developed may be ready for those particular shows.

 Once we have an idea of products which could potentially launch, we look at where we're exhibiting them and how they fit within. We try to come up with a concept which is relevant, shows our products in a new and thoughtful way and engages with the visitor. We will also consider the type of audience that we might expect to visit. For example, LDF has a lot of local and international visitors both trade and others who are interested in the culture of the festival - all of whom are interested in finding different things. It's nice to think about different aspects of a show and try to combine it so there is something for everyone. I personally find LDF more abstract and multi-faceted. I like to see interesting things that recent graduates have hashed together contrasting with an incredible installation and an awesome production ready product by my favourite designer. LDF has a little bit of it all!

The build up for the exhibition solely depends on how extravagant the concept is. Sometimes there are things which need to be built or hung or lit up in lights. It all takes preparation. Luckily we've done a few of these now to know our limits and how long we need for it all. Sometimes our hard work and preparation goes wrong and sometimes we put the idea down, how we designed it and for some reason it just doesn't work. So you have to move it round and look at it from a different angle. Take out a product here and put another one in there. It's an absolute delight when it all goes as you'd planned it, but you have to prepare for it going wrong as well.

This year during LDF we've flipped it on it's head as there is less focus on the product and a renewed focus on the experience of the visitor. We wanted to offer something different to your average 'have a look at our amazing products' trade show. A little respite from the barrage of products being pushed at the visitors and a chance to relax and learn something new.

So there will still be elements of the classic trade show 'build' but in an alternative format. We'll also have the chance to put up and take down the exhibition in our own time this year and that's always a bonus. No one wants to take down an exhibition on a hangover.

What is the inspiration behind the Deadgood Library launching at LDF? 

We're building on a working relationship with YCN and they've been so kind as to offer us their gallery space in the heart of Shoreditch. The idea behind the 'Deadgood Library' is a fusion of what they're already doing with the space mixed with our own take on your standard trade show experience.

 Some of my favourite or most memorable exhibitions have set a scene - invited you into another world and made you feel different and excited while being in there. An exhibition isn't just for the time that it's on. It also lives on as an enduring memory for the visitor. We want to lure visitors in, invite them to get lost, find new things and take selfies amongst a sea of white pages. It would be nice if they go away and remember what they've seen for years to come.


 Additionally, we've added an extra element of discovery to the exhibition. "What is your favourite book?" is a take on the most common denominator in a library and everyday lives - the book. We've built a reading collection based upon the design industry's favourite books which you can discover as you move around the space. It's a simple concept. Books are a source of inspiration, a chance to relax or let yourself go in a world outside of your own. By asking industry persons what their favourite book is, it is a chance to discover a little bit about them. It gives us a rare chance to see what their own inspiration is, in hopes that this may further inspire us. Who knows. It's actually been very exciting preparing all of the emails to these designers and getting a reply. When the names of some of the most successful designers in the world pop up in your inbox, it's truly exciting and humbling that they've taken the time to reply. Really, they're just normal people who like books too!

What do you personally enjoy about design events like LDF?

As discussed earlier, I like the whole mix of things you can see at LDF. Sometimes it's difficult when you're exhibiting to actually get out and see other shows, but when you do, it's really nice to see what everyone else has been upto. It's also nice to bump into friends and have a catch up with them.

I would say one of my favourite things to after a design event is have a meal with our team and a few other close friends in the industry. Design events can be hard work but very rewarding at the end of it all as well. It's like a pat on the back for managing to get through it all!

Which other designers and events are you looking forward to checking out at LDF?

If I'm honest, the best thing for me is feeding my addiction to design. I thrive on knowing what's going on and how design is moving forward.

In terms of specific things to see, I've been fortunate to meet and work with some lovely people in the industry. I always enjoy seeing what they've been doing with their time. If I get the chance I always like to visit the V&A and Lee Broom's showroom as there's always something special to see there. It'll also be nice to see the new DesignJunction and how they work with the new space at Central St. Martins.

More importantly though, I'll be reading a book in the 'Deadgood Library'.

We have teamed up with Wordery so you can purchase the Deadgood Library  reading list with a special discount, visit